Thursday, November 26, 2015

Uncharacteristic mush

Since I'm Canadian, this isn't even my Thanksgiving. But I read an article recently that said some of the things that give people the most peace of mind are explicitly labeling their emotions, making concrete decisions, and gratitude--thinking about what we're grateful for, even if it's hard to come up with a big list. (I can dig up the article if anyone is interested.) Whether or not these things apply to everyone, they can't hurt. And when the things you are grateful for are other people, you should tell them.

So I wanted to say thank you to anyone reading this, because I am really grateful to be able to write this silly fucking blog and to rant and rave about trivial things. I'm even more grateful that people actually read it and that you comment and chat with me. It's immensely fun, and I've learned a whole lot from you.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Free shipping on all orders from e.l.f. (no minimum, no code needed)

(I'm not going to post all the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, because there are lots of sources for that information out there. For example, here's Nouveau Cheap's very helpful roundup. I also feel a little weird about encouraging the shopping circus. Not that you can't decide for yourself what to do with your money. But if I see anything that looks particularly interesting and I have time to post it, I will. Like this.)

Free shipping goes until Nov. 26. If you spend $25+ and use the code MAJOR, you also get a free 7-piece set that contains my favorite e.l.f mascara (reviewed here) and their excellent blush brush, among other things.

You can see what else is good (or terrible) in the reviews under my e.l.f. tag.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Free samples of No. 4 and Schwarzkopf hair care products

The No. 4 site is running very slowly now, so you might have to refresh a few times and be patient to get it to load. The Schwartkopf samples are through their Facebook page.

LORAC, Deborah Lippmann, and philosophy on HauteLook today

Disclosure: Referral link.
Discounts range from 20-80% off. The DL polishes are $7 a bottle. I keep thinking I should get one of those LORAC eyeshadow palettes that everyone is always raving about, but I still haven't done it. Anything look good to you?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Surly Sunday Screed: Pantene isn't crap

I got my hair cut recently and complained a little about it on Instagram. I tend to only get it cut a couple of times a year. I try for every 3-4 months, but I usually don't manage it. I put it off for a long time for a few reasons: it's expensive; I don't particularly enjoy making small talk with a stranger for an hour; I have to take my glasses off and, because my eyesight is so poor, that adds to the awkwardness; and I don't have a regular stylist now, so it's always a gamble trying to find someone new who will give you a cut you like. That means there's a lot riding on each salon visit. I went back to the salon I usually go to (though the stylist I used to see left a while back), which I like for two main reasons. First, they give a scalp massage before the cut, which can be amazing. Second, they don't pressure me too much to buy their products, which I can't afford. They usually tell me what they're using, and why, which is interesting, but that's it. And I have actually purchased some of the things they used in the past, but I can't swing it now, and I don't like the hard sell.

Well, this time the gamble did not pay off, and I could tell it was not going to be a great experience from the beginning. As soon as I sat down, she asked me what kind of shampoo and conditioner I use. Never a good sign. My hair is very dry in general -- and especially at that moment because I had been avoiding buying new products for a few months, and instead just using up some old shampoo I had on hand for my boyfriend that was not doing anything to help the dryness. I was also using some expensive, "natural" conditioner that was equally useless. So I mumbled some (drugstore) brand name, and she immediately launched into a lecture about why "grocery store" and "drugstore" products are terrible for your hair. You've heard it before. They deposit "wax" on your hair which builds up and makes it rough and dry (unlike the expensive "natural," "botanical" products she could sell me). She explained that the reason my hair doesn't take a curl is because I have all this gunk on it that won't allow styling products to penetrate the hair, because it's like having a plastic glove over my hair. (Do I want hairspray to penetrate my hair? That's not generally how it works.) Never mind that my hair has never curled well with heat, even when I was a child. The worst part was that she delivered this inept and misinformed lecture while giving me my scalp massage, so she was half-assing the massage, and I was simultaneously annoyed by the nonsense she was spouting.

I know there are worse things going on in the world right now. This ranks as an annoyance, not a disaster.

I don't entirely blame the hair stylist, because I know that this sort of thing is part of her training and part of her job. It's what she's been taught, and she believes what she's saying. "Pantene is horrible because it deposits silicone on your hair and it builds up and forms a film that weighs down your hair." Yes, most conditioners deposit a film on your hair. That's how they work. It's the film that makes it soft and smooth and shiny (with the exception of very few ingredients, like coconut oil). That is true for both drugstore and salon conditioners and styling products. All you have to do is look at the ingredients to see that they are very similar in higher and lower end products. Silicone is fine for your hair - it washes right out with shampoo. So even if you are concerned about build-up, all you have to do is use a clarifying shampoo once or twice a week to clear it up. I know that some people with curly hair prefer to avoid silicone, which is a legit choice - but even if you accidentally use a product containing it, it's easy to shampoo out. If silicone didn't wash off with soap or detergent, most of us would have a thick coating of it on our skin, because it's also an ingredient in a lot of lotions and moisturizers.

Pantene adds more silicone than some other products, because they make a conditioning shampoo. You can read all the specifics of how it works in this post from The Beauty Brains, in which they also answer someone's question about why Pantene isn't sold in salons if it's "so good." The answer, in short, is because they wouldn't make nearly as much money from it as they do now. (Sidenote: I'm really sad that when The Beauty Brains lost their archives, they lost the post in which they collaborated with a stylist who swore she could tell the difference between hair washed with drugstore and salon products. In a blind test she was right less than 50% of the time - which suggests that if she was choosing the "nicer" hair, the drugstore product might have been better. It was so good.)

Anyway, the anti-drugstore spiel that you get from hair stylists and that other people repeat over and over is another version of "it's better because it costs more." Some expensive products are great, and some are crappy; ditto for cheaper stuff like Pantene. Here's an good explanation of why people think cheap things are worse, even though there is little correspondence between cost and value today (h/t Liz, thanks!):

In the end, I also didn't get the haircut I wanted (if I can tuck them behind my ears, they aren't bangs!), and I had to leave to get lunch with some friends, so I couldn't stick around to get it fixed. But the most annoying part was the concern-trolling, nonsensical sales pitch. Experiences like these are why I don't relate much to people who find getting a hair cut relaxing. If you do, I guess I need to go to your stylist!

Friday, November 20, 2015

ULTA "Cyber Fundays" deals + Sephora Black Friday preview

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
If you're interested in this sort of thing, you've probably already come across this information. But just in case you haven't: ULTA has a bunch of deals today and tomorrow, which they say are better than what they will be offering on Cyber Monday. Some things are 50% off. Here is the full list. There's also a code there for $10 off $60 (303907), and shipping is free over $35.

Sephora has also listed the $10 deals they'll be offering on Black Friday. Nouveau Cheap posted the full list. I'm kind of interested in the Nest rollerballs, but I'm not going to make any special effort to get them. If they're still available when I have a chance to get online, I'll buy them. If the Formula X nail polish on the left side of that duo is Iconic, then it's definitely worth buying, because it's stunning. Here's a photo of it from my Instagram. You might also want to consider getting the $10 flash shipping subscription if you think you will be buying something from this sale and also ordering a couple more times from Sephora in the next year. You get 2-day shipping for a year - otherwise you'd spend $6 to ship a $10 set, which makes it less of a deal.

Anything look good to you?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cheap trick: Winged eyeliner for (fairly) hooded eyes

Disclosure: Affiliate link.
I love a good cat-eye look, but hooded lids can make certain types of eye makeup trickier. By hooded, I mean that the part of the eyelid below the eyebrow comes down to cover up most of the part of the eyelid that is below the crease/immediately above the lashes. My lids are fairly hooded now, and I am sure they are only going to become more so as I age. There's nothing wrong with this shape - lots of gorgeous people have hooded eyes (not that I am including myself in that category, but I don't consider my eye type a flaw). But this shape can be frustrating if you are pining after elaborate eyeshadow looks, because you know that most of the color will just disappear into the your crease. On the upside, it means that I can wear pretty garish eyeshadow in professional settings and no one will really notice. It also means that winged eyeliner is tricky, because my crease extends below the outer corner of my eye, which can interfere with the wing. Here's a creepy closeup up my eye so that you can see what I'm talking about:

I've heard a lot of people with eyes similar to mine in one way or another say that they can't do a cat eye, but I use an easy technique that might work for you too. This may also be useful even if your eyes aren't hooded, but you have the low crease thing going on like I do.

[ETA: After reading Michelle's comment below (thanks!), it occurred to me that I'd chosen a photo here where I'm raising my eyebrows a little (believe it or not) to show my eyeshadow better. Usually I raise my eyebrows like this and tilt my head to apply eye makeup, so that I can see my eyelid better. I've added another, no makeup (ungroomed brows), straight on shot of my eye that might make help to illustrate the shape better. You can see that when I relax my eyebrows, the hooded part is lower. ]

Most winged eyeliner tutorials (like this one, for example) tell you to start by drawing a short line angled upward from the corner of your eye, and then to line above your lashes and connect the two at the outer corner. Usually you're not going to want to stretch your eyelid while doing this, because when you let go of it, you'll end up with a different shape from what you originally drew.

You can see from the way my eyelid is shaped that if I try to do it that way, the crease (or creases, to be more accurate) will get in the way. I can't just draw a line over the crease without making a huge mess.

So here is my modification.